Stuffing In the Ads

It is no coincidence that the rise in experiential marketing methodologies comes at a time when commercial noise is at an all-time high.

And the clutter will continue to grow.

In fact, an annual Mindshare study has found that commercial clutter on broadcast and cable networks has reached the highest levels of prime-time commercialization ever.

The report, which is based on an analysis of 2005 prime-time commercial minutes and non-programming (commercials, promos, PSAs and station IDs) minutes data from TNS, found that commercial minutes on the broadcast networks rose 2 percent over 2004, while cable networks rose even more – nearly 5 percent.

“The current data on clutter is disturbing,” stated Debbie Solomon, group research director at MindShare and author of the report, which MindShare has been conducting ever since the American Association of Advertising Agencies abandoned its own annual analysis several years ago. “It highlights the continuing concerns about the messaging and communications value of the TV environment caused by the increasing number of distracting elements present in prime-time.”

On the cable front, MTV continued to be the worst offender, squeezing 21 percent additional commercial minutes per prime-time hour, and raising its total non-programming time 18 percent to a record 16 minutes and 13 seconds per hour – about two-and-a-half minutes more than 2004, according to the MindShare analysis.

So, is it any surprise that MTV Network’s upfront celebration on Tuesday was titled “Feed the Need.” In other words, MTV wants advertisers to believe that their audience wants more clutter, not less. The overriding message, according to reports from MediaPost, is that MTV Networks wants to be wherever the consumer is, and is inviting advertisers into the clutter-fest.

As they highlighted each of the networks within MTVN’s sprawling portfolio, executives emphasized that each linear channel–from the flagship MTV to Logo, from VH1 to Comedy Central–now has brand extensions on multiple screens, spanning iPods, VOD, wireless, and broadband. And where there’s a screen with content, there’s space for marketing messages.

“The evolving digital media landscape has created more opportunities for us to reach your customers,” Larry Divney, MTVN’s president of ad sales, told a packed theater at Madison Square Garden.

“MTVN now has even more touchpoints for advertisers,” said Michael Wolf, MTVN President and COO. “We know that our audiences are into user-generated content, social networking, and gaming–so we’ve made strategic acquisitions like iFilm, GameTrailers, NeoPets, and just last week, XFire.”

Oh boy, kids. Get ready to be bombarded. But how long will the consumer take it? How long before the revolt? And who will be up against the wall when it happens?

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